The Most Dangerous Thing

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Sixteen-year-old Sydney hates to talk (or even think) about sex. She's also fighting a secret battle against depression, and she's sure she'll never have a boyfriend. When her classmate Paul starts texting and sending her nature photos, she is caught off guard by his interest. Always uncomfortable with any talk about sex, Sydney is shocked when her extroverted sister, Abby, announces that she is going to put on The Vagina Monologues at school. Despite her discomfort, Sydney starts to reexamine her relationship with her body, and with Paul. But her depression worsens, and with the help of her friends, her family, a therapist and some medication, she grapples with what she calls the most dangerous thing about sex: female desire.

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Publié par
Date de parution 07 mars 2017
Nombre de visites sur la page 1
EAN13 9781459811867
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0104 €. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

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Copyright © 2017 Leanne LiePerman
All rights reserved. No part of this puPlication may Pe reproduced or transmitted in any form or Py any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or Py any information storage and retrieval system now known or to Pe invented, without permission in writing from the puPlisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
LiePerman, Leanne, 1974–, author The most dangerous thing / Leanne LiePerman.
Issued also in print and electronic formats. ISBN978-1-4598-1184-3 (paperPack).—ISBN978-1-4598-1185-0 (pdf).—ISBN978-1-4598-1186-7 (epuP)
I. Title. S8623.I36M67.2017 jC813'.6 C2016-904491-2
C2016-904490-4
First puPlished in the United States, 2016 LiPrary of Congress Control NumPer: 2016950079
Summary: In this novel for teens, Sydney grapples with depression, social anxiety and her growing desire for a physical relationship with her Poyfriend.
Orca Book uPlishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its puPlishing programs provided Py the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the rovince of British ColumPia through the BC Arts Council and the Book uPlishing Tax Credit.
Cover image Py Getty Images and Dreamstime.com. Hand lettering Py Kristi-Lea APramson. Design Py Jenn layford Author photo Py Bernard Clark
ORCABOOKUBLISHERS www.orcaPook.com
For my sister, Marcy, and my Gibridge sisters.
Contents Ône Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten Eleven Twelve Acknowledgments
One BY SIX THIRTY MY EYES ARE wide open in the dim morning light, but I can’t move. There’s a weight on my chest holding me down with fierce intensity. I need to roll over, pick up my phone and open the Sudoku app. Today I’m having trouble rolling over for the phone, the weight is so great. This is new. Come on, I tell myself, get going. If I can beat the game, then I can get out of bed. Then I’ll be able to do all the other things, like putting my feet on the floor and getting dressed and brushing my teeth. By then, half the battle will be won. I still haven’t picked up my phone. My eyes feel like deadweights, like someone has bolted them into my face. Not even the new pink ballet flats I planned to wear today can lure me out of bed. I need to get up so I can go to school, graduate and then go to university to study commerce. Then I can get a great job and make enough money to buy a condo I can hide in. I know this isn’t the best logic, but it forces me to reach for my phone and open the Sudoku app. If I lose I don’t have to get out of bed, but if I win I have to get up. I always win, and by seven I am in the shower. Once I get going, I can shake off most of the heavy feeling, blast some of the fog out of my brain. It is almost always there to some degree, weighing me down. At least at school, in classes like math and chem, I can forget about it. There’s no room in my brain for the fog when I’m trying to solve a calculus problem. I bike to school and grind through my morning classes without making too much eye contact, barely saying hi to my lab partner, Paul. By lunch I’m ready to eat my bagel with cream cheese, cucumber and sprouts, my apple and my brownie, and talk to Sofia and Fen. Sofia is waiting for me by our lockers. She looks me up and down, checking out my outfit: leggings, my favorite blue-and-white-striped, long-sleeve T-shirt, a blue blazer and a pearl necklace. “What’s with the pearls?” she asks. “They’re not real,” I say, stroking the shiny beads. “I thought they would be good with my jacket for the investor’s club.” “Does that start today?” Sofia looks stricken. “Yep. You promised.” “Yeah yeah.” Sofia opens her locker and pulls out a yogurt. “Fine, let’s go meet the junior investors.” “Is Fen coming?” I look around for him. “No,” Sofia says, “he said he was going to work out at lunch today.” Fen has recently become entirely about his body. He even joined the rugby team, although he dislocated his shoulder last term. Sofia, Fen and I met in eighth grade because we were assigned lockers next to each other. Sofia introduced herself by complimenting me on the sparkly shoelaces in my Converse sneakers. I had worn them because my regular white laces had broken that morning, and the only ones I could find were these gold-and-silver ones my sister, Abby, gave me. Sofia’s taller than me, very skinny and really into fashion. Today she has on tall black boots, leggings and this kind of complicated tunic top with pieces of ripped fabric hanging from the shoulders. Even though Sofia also hangs out with other artsy kids who want to study fashion design, we still have our lockers in the same place as we did in eighth grade three years ago. Sofia and I head down the hall to the math wing, where the investor’s club meets. “I think you’re going to get into this investing thing. It’s all about making money,” I say. Sofia and I both believe money can make you happy, or at least happier. “I do like money,” Sofia says. “I just like design and fashion better.” “You need some business sense so you can figure out how to run your fashion house.” “You don’t understand,” Sofia says, running her fingers through her long hair. “I’m going to be the designer for a company and hire someone like you to figure out the business plan.”
“Right,” I say. “But you still have to know if my plan is any good.” Sofia sighs. She’s willing to come because she knows I can’t go by myself, and that’s the kind of friend she is. Sofia and I sit at the back of the room eating our lunch, waiting for Mr. Weston to start. I notice Paul come in with one of his friends and sit close to the door. Mr. Weston begins by passing out donuts and then starts talking about this year’s contest. He pulls up the website on the Smart Board and explains the different kinds of investments we need to make and the timeline of the contest. The team that makes the most money wins a prize. Mr. Weston pulls up a few other sites to help us watch the markets. I follow closely, taking notes on my phone and bookmarking sites. As Mr. Weston speaks, the rest of the fog in my brain dissipates. Not only is the contest about making money, but it’s the best kind of applied math—math with risk and strategy. I whisper to Sofia, “My zeyda will help us. He’s been teaching me already, and he’s vicious at this kind of stuff.” Sofia nods as if to say,yeah, yeah, yeah. When the first bell rings to signal the end of lunch, we file out of Mr. Weston’s room into the hall. Sofia and I are heading toward our lockers when I hear Paul call, “Hey, Syd.” We wait for him to push his way through the crowded hallway. “I didn’t know you were interested in investing,” he says. I nod, forcing myself to look at Paul. We never talk outside of class. Sofia says, “She does it for real too.” I kick her. “Not really.” Paul grins. “Now I know who to go to for stock tips.” If we stand around talking too long, we’ll be late for our afternoon class, so Sofia says, “Gotta go, see you” for both of us. “Bye,” I add. “Hey, Syd,” Paul says. “Do you want to meet after school to work on chem?” “Um, I’m busy today,” I say. I always visit my zeyda on Mondays. “Can I text you?” Paul asks. “Sure.” Paul and I have texted before about schoolwork. I give a half wave, and Sofia and I start heading down the hall. “Do you think he likes you?” Sofia asks. “Who, Paul? No, he’s just my lab partner.” “Maybe, but he was looking at you. I mean, reallylookingat you.” “I didn’t notice.” This is a lie. I’m also wondering why Paul needs to text me. We could talk in class tomorrow. “Syd,” Sofia says, “that’s because you weren’t even making eye contact.” “That’s not one of my strengths. You know that.” “Well, I think he’s into you,” Sofia says. “And I think he’s kinda cute.” I raise my eyebrows at Sofia. “Yeah, I don’t think so.” Sofia lifts her hands in defeat, and I turn away to head down the stairs to my next class. On the way there my phone pings. I stop to look at a message from Paul:Talk to you later. I’m not sure what to do with this, so I shove my phone in my pocket and keep on walking. I’ve known Paul since eighth grade. We sat next to each other in science class, in the back row, and ended up being lab partners because neither of us knew anyone else in the class. Paul didn’t even say hi to me the whole first year. At first I thought it was because he was shy, but then I realized he didn’t speak English very well. He would use his translator to figure out the lab sheet, and we would work silently together. He was even worse at making eye contact than I was. Mostly he talked in Cantonese to the kid next to him. I found this a little annoying, but I was used to it. Almost half the kids at my school speak Cantonese or Mandarin at home instead of English. Paul and I were lab partners for ninth-grade science too, but it wasn’t until
tenth-grade science that he actually started talking to me. I guess he was one of those people who wouldn’t speak English out loud until he felt confident. Now he doesn’t even have an accent anymore. This year we’re taking chemistry together, and Paul happens to be in my math class too. Sometimes at lunch he’ll wander down the hall to my locker and we’ll compare our math or finish a lab. I can also talk to Paul normally, which sounds a little weird, but I have a hard time talking to most people. Paul is easy to be with because he’s so relaxed and has such an easy smile. I even told him a math joke once. I called our math classLCD. He didn’t get it. I had to explain. LCD,common denominator—get it? It means our class is full of kids who are bad at lowest math, who should be in applied, not academic. Paul had stared at me. I can’t believe you just made a math joke. I can’t believe you didn’t get it. It was a math joke. He looked incredulous.
I continue down the hall to my creative writing class. No one knows I’m taking this elective. Sofia thinks I’m taking English, although if she thought about it, she would realize I took English last term. Eventually my parents will see the course listed on my transcript, but they probably won’t pay much attention to it. They don’t look closely at my reports because they know I always get high grades, and because Abby’s reports are so wildly unpredictable. She’ll decide that geometry is interesting and do well, then decide calculus is useless. Or she’ll claim the basketball unit in her mandatory gym class is discriminatory because she’s under five foot five and refuse to participate. My writing class is just a class to take for fun. Mostly I’m interested in math, because it’s the main prerequisite for commerce and because there’s always a correct outcome. Sure, there might be multiple ways to get to the answer, but in the end there’s a final resolution. It’s not like other subjects, or even life, where there are gray areas and lots of possible answers. When I finish a math test, I go over the answers and then I try to figure out my mark. Sometimes I’ll even write it at the top of my test with a question mark. Then I figure out the percentage. Mom would be very excited if she knew I was taking writing. She’s suggested I take something artsy for years.To expand your horizons, she says. She likes that I have a plan for financial success, but sometimes she looks at me wistfully and says,What about a dream, something improbable, a little romantic? Your life shouldn’t be too planned out, Syd. Leave some room for spontaneity and art. Then she’ll sigh and say,When I was your age I wanted to be an actress. If she’s feeling really dramatic, she’ll add,Even your father has artistic dreams. She means my dad’s obsession with architecture. Dad has a collection of books on architectural wonders of the world, everything from the pyramids in Giza to the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai. Dad does not have “artistic dreams.” He’s a civil engineer, and his interest in architecture focuses on the technology and design of structures, mainly bridges. If you have lots of time, he’ll lecture you on the beauty of I.M. Pei’s Louvre pyramid or Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia. I take a seat at the back of the writing class. I don’t know anyone well in the class, and that’s fine with me. So far, the writing assignments have been within my comfort zone. I’ve even been able to participate in the editing sessions, where you have to read your work out loud to a partner. This guy Dean and I usually work together. He’s skinny and wears his hair in a long ponytail, and I can tell he’s even more nervous than me. He likes to write sci-fi stuff, the more battle scenes, the better. In class we’ve been practicing things like setting a scene and writing dialogue, and there
hasn’t been too much discussion of art. To me, art is scary. Art is where the dark edges of your life show through. I don’t want people to see the fog or the dark inside me. Sometimes I worry that the fog is showing anyway, that I’m breathing it out everywhere I go. I wish I could put on a fake sunny facade, and people would buy this as my true self, or at least as the self I’m presenting to the world. For the writing class, there’s a poetry assignment coming up and a story we’ll have to write by the end of the term, but I’m pacing myself. Mrs. Lee, the writing teacher, says stories and poems don’t have to be about ourselves. I’m planning on being very creative and very impersonal. Today we’re working on descriptions of people, and that still feels safe. I write a vivid portrait of Abby, starting out with some wordplay. That’s mostly what I like to do, breaking down words and then building them up again. Abigail, a gale, a storm, Abby blowing in and then out, a whirlwind, a whirling wind, a winding whirl, like an unfurling curl, a raging girl. Abby, a bee, a buzzing bee, so busy, here and there, everywhere, raging, mother hive, alive, a buzzing bee, Abby. When I have to turn to Dean and share some of my work, I manage to read a whole paragraph out loud to him. My face burns with embarrassment, and I can’t look at him. When it’s over, I hear him mumble, “I like that,” and then my face goes red from the compliment. After writing class, I have Mandarin. It’s a good way to end the day because there’s a lot of memorization and “repeat after me” as Mr. Wu, our teacher, tries to get us to say words with the right intonation. I’m not very good at pronouncing the different sounds, but I thought learning Mandarin would be helpful for my business future. After class I head back down the stairs to my locker. Before I even get there, my phone buzzes. Paul has texted me a picture of a fluffy high-in-the-sky cloud. It’s a beautiful picture, but I’m not sure what to do with it. I stare at my screen. Finally I write back,Nimbostratus? Cumulus. Looks like? Oh, this is a game. Okay. I squint at the picture.A kitten? Maybe. I think a sheep. I type a smiley face back because I’m not sure what else to write. As I put my phone down to pack my bag, Paul sends another picture, this one of a cloudy sky with a hole in the center. ?I type back. It’s a fallstreak hole, altocumulus. This is a little weird. I write back,You taking grade 9 science again? No. I’ve got my jacket and backpack on and am strapping on my helmet.Your turn, Paul writes. For what? Send me a picture. A cloud? Anything. I look out the window. The sky is gray, threatening rain. Let me think about it. Fen comes down the hall with his distinctive jerky walk, and I quickly hide my phone, as if he might see the texts from Paul. Fen would want to know all about the texts, ask too many questions and have opinions about them too. Sometimes I wonder why Sofia and I still hang out with Fen, or why we ever hung out with him in the first place. He’s not interested in fashion or finance or even personal grooming beyond the bare necessities of hygiene. Fenny’s also not much to look at. He’s very thin and has an awkward Adam’s apple, bad acne and a twitchiness about him that makes it hard for him to sit still. Sometimes I feel like suggesting he needs to change hisADHDbut that meds,